TV Viewer’s Resolution Limits at Various Screen Sizes (at Typical Distance)

BBC R&D have determined the resolution levels people can typically perceive at the most common viewing distance, just under 9 feet.

Some examples I draw from this:

  •  For my 24 inch (diagonal) editing monitor viewed at 2 feet (my typical distance), this is equivalent to a screen of (9/2)*24= 84 inches (diagonal) at the study’s typical viewing distance.   Based on this, their results imply that I can resolve in excess of full HD (1920×1080).
    • Though a typical TV viewer might not sit at this distance, someone watching on a laptop or tablet etc. might well do.
  • An elderly person I know sits at “about ten feet” from a 50 inch (diagonal) HD screen (a Panasonic 3D TV).  They notice little difference between SD and HD.  BBC results suggest they should be able to perceive up to 1280×720.
    • In addition to the possible ageing issue (deteriorating vision), I wonder if their TV incorporates any clever scaling algorithm to produce an image that is HD-smooth if not HD-detailed.  In principle algorithms can infer greater resolution from consideration of sets of frames, so detail-enhancement is not beyond the realms of possibility.

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